Fog-swathed Maricao is the smallest municipality on the main island of Puerto Rico, and a gem of a mountain retreat near the western end of the Ruta Panorámica. This is a town of little commerce, with rushing streams, gorges, bridges, terraced houses, switchback roads, and weather so cool and damp that some houses have stone fireplaces to take the nip out of the air. Outside town lies beautiful mountain terrain and the largest state forest in Puerto Rico, the Bosque Estatal de Maricao.
Maricao is just the kind of place in which legends take root. Some claim that it was the strong coffee grown here that woke up the devil on the island. Another story tells of 2000 Taíno that survived here into the 19th century, centuries after the last native Puerto Ricans were thought to have disappeared.
Stopping here is probably as close as travelers can come to experiencing the charms of the legendary jíbaro’s existence. Maricao hosts a popular coffee-harvest festival in mid-February, with crafts and traditional coffee-making demonstrations.